The chairperson of the education, training and organising committee Nqabeni Nkala said members should guard against yellow unions to safeguard the gains fought over many years of struggle.
Nkala is the union’s second trustee and is one of the longest serving members of the union having joined its ranks in 1989. He heads a five-member team which is responsible for designing the department’s working programmes before implementation.
Given the high levels of disputes in their sector, the union managed to train para legal officers who have worked tirelessly to settle labour disputes timeously and this has propelled ZEWU to become a powerhouse in representing workers in the energy sector.
“We have partnered with the Zimbabwe Labour Centre to train our cadres on legal issues and we are proud to say the programme has progressed very well. Our cadres have received training from qualified tutors from the University of Zimbabwe and most of them are now first class material,” said Nkala.
He said the effectiveness of the educational programmes are measured by the level of participation of members in trade union activities such as representation in hearings, May Day, Women’s Day and other important activities in communities where they live.
Nkala however challenged those who have benefited from the union’s training programmes to take up leadership positions in all the organisation structures as a way of ensuring that the knowledge acquired will not go to waste.
He said it was also important for members to use the capacity impacted to them to take up active roles in other programmes which have a direct bearing on the general welfare of people in their respective communities.
“It is important that you have been trained but standing up and utilising your knowledge to equip others will help further strengthen the organisation. Leadership does not only end in ZEWU but you can also participate in activities at community and national levels,” said Nkala who is a local government councilor and also chairman of the board of a non-governmental organisation in Esgodini.
Nkala said given the increase in occupational accidents recorded on a daily basis especially at Zimbabwe Electricity and Distribution Company (ZETDC) and Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC), the union has decided to put in place a programme of training health and safety cadres who will help address this problem.
“We have noted that there is an upsurge of occupational accidents involving electrocution of workers mostly at ZETDC and ZPC including other entities. Now we cannot stand and watch while our members continue to lose lives while many sustain serious injuries in the course of their duties.” he said.
The trained health and safety cadres will work closely with company safety officers including those from the National Social Security Authority to carry out effective inspections at workplaces.
“We know that most companies have health and safety departments but the problem is that some of them are window dressers because our members are getting injured on a daily basis while others are dying under their watch. We want to move in with our trained cadres to complement their efforts and curb such incidences,” said Nkala.